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Religion in Mental Health: Soul Under Pressure


In today’s National Health System in Britain, Archie’s height was found to be intimidating to his fellow students thus attracting defensive aggression caused by the insecurity complexes of the mentally well. His manic depression began at school and he was eventually unable to cope with school life.

Archie’s response to his arrival at a mental hospital was aggressive. From North to South he has resided in many hospitals and escaped many times. He passed by a torrent of treatments. Yet, it was his inner recognition of his rights, character and will that survived the dilemma (Linklater 1-3).

It’s these characters I have found that are most likely to survive and end up the least handicapped. Whereas, for others, the story isn’t the same especially where culture is involved as an additional fear to be reckoned with.

Ethnic Minorities Imprisoned in their own Minds

Both users and providers of the system have reflected concerns in many specialized British publications. The British mental health system has shown over-representation by certain groups, including Muslims.

Research has found that ethnic minorities visit hospitals under compulsory sectioning of the Mental Health Act (1983) requiring urgent treatment and thus placed in locked-up wards. They are schizophrenic not recognizing the reaction to their treatment (Hussein p.1).

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Sometimes incarceration is in a prison cell. Once at the mercy of this end of the mental health system, it is difficult to get out.

If you weren’t a schizophrenic when you entered, the likelihood of becoming one once on the inside is great due to the high doses of neuroleptic drugs given in preference to non-drug based treatments such as therapy.

In a society that doesn’t equate religion as a way of life. Moreover, it’s insensitive and ignorant towards any cultural and religious practices other than its own. Hence, a process of ‘imprisoning of the mind’ occurs among some groups increasing reactions of depression and anger.

Many writers have highlighted that this stems from a racial stereotyping and cultural imperialism adopted by mental health professionals amongst people who have become increasingly emotionally disabled due to the sterile environment. (Hussein p.1).

Religion in Mental Health: Soul Under Pressure - About Islam


This, in reality, isn’t surprising, as modern psychology has largely been dependent on a tradition that divorces the importance of the soul from the social being.

There is no attempt to develop an understanding of how the religious beliefs of Muslims influence their relationship to themselves and their environment.

In fact, it has been the experience of family members and some supportive communities that have challenged the machinations of the mental health system seeking accountability and change.

From this has arisen community-based support agencies and professionals often under-resourced and undermined. It was these resources that were found useful in response to the backlash of September 11th.

The Association of Muslim Schools enlisted consultants to advise teachers on how to handle the situation. Gladly, many teachers, however, have preferred to take a personal approach to each pupil.

Some Islamic schools have used prayer as a means of achieving calm, whilst others have held discussion workshops. One pupil from an Islamic School experienced recurrent nightmares about the events. She feared that Islamic schools, as gathering points for Muslims, might be bombed and she also held anxiety for her relatives in Pakistan.

“When the USA first began bombing Afghanistan, my mum was so scared for my safety, she didn’t want me to go to school. I was scared too but she read some verses from the Qur’an and I felt better after that…” (Akbar p.8).

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